Starbucks planning to open a new store in Berkeley

A coffee shop believed to be Starbucks is applying to occupy the corner space in the new Telegraph Gardens mixed-use apartment building at Telegraph and Ashby. Photo: Tracey Taylor

Update, 03.19.13: Regarding the parking situation in the area, Starbucks is providing four off-street parking spaces inside the building at 3001 Telegraph. As reported in the story below, the city waived a further three that would normally have been required given the size of the space Starbucks is leasing. Avi Nevo, the owner of the building, told Berkeleyside he believes the new building and the coffee shop will create a “vibrant and lively,” pedestrian-focused area within a few months. “I have built eight or nine projects for Berkeley in the past ten years and we always aim to create villages in each one,” he said.

Original story: Starbucks looks set to move into the corner space at 3001 Telegraph Avenue at Ashby, in the newly built Telegraph Gardens mixed-use apartment building, prompting the owner of a nearby independent coffee shop to express concern about the impact a branch of the Seattle-based chain will have on his business.

An administrative use permit was approved on Wednesday for a “coffee shop and retail sales of coffee merchandise.” Although the application does not mention Starbucks, a member of the construction crew working on site said Starbucks was the new tenant.

The project architect, Adam Orozko, whose company Arktegraf has built more than 100 Starbucks in California and Nevada, told Berkeleyside on Tuesday they did not have a client yet. However when asked again today, Orozko said he did know who was going into the space but was unable to say who it was.


“A building permit for tenant improvements has not been filed yet and we do not want to confirm a client until the project has been approved,” he said.

Michael Iida, who owns Mokka at 3075 Telegraph Ave., two blocks south of the proposed new coffee shop, said construction workers at the new building site had told him they were working on specifications for Starbucks. Iida is holding a meeting at the coffee shop on Sunday March 24 at 5:00 p.m. for the local community to talk about the potential arrival of a Starbucks in the neighborhood. A sign on Mokka’s front door says: “Save Mokka!”

Mokka 1
Michael Iida, the owner of coffee shop Mokka, which is two blocks south of the proposed new Starbucks, is holding a meeting on Sunday for neighbors to discuss the potential new tenant. Photo: Tracey Taylor

Iida said he wants to raise awareness of the fact a new coffee shop is coming in. He is most concerned about the potential impact a store like Starbucks would have on parking in the area and the knock-on effect that might have on Mokka.

“We think we can compete with Starbucks,” he said. “But parking spaces should be required [for a new coffee shop].”

The city waived parking requirements for the new tenant at 3001 Telegraph. Telegraph Gardens has 42 off-street parking spaces but they are reserved for residents. In its approval of the coffee shop’s administrative use permit, the city waived three off-street parking spaces saying “the coffee shop would primarily serve residents and workers in the neighborhood who are most likely to walk to the establishment rather than drive.” It continued: “The coffee shop would primarily serve those residing and working within the neighborhood and not a broader city-wide clientele and therefore would not significantly increase the traffic circulation or parking demand in the area.”

The building’s owner, Avi Nevo, and Arktegraf said in their application that they expected the majority of the store’s customers to be non-drivers. Specifically: “UC Berkeley students passing through, bicycles and walking in addition to adjacent businesses.”

Iida said he estimates a Starbucks would be serving 400-500 customers a day compared to Mokka’s average of 200 daily customers.

Iida said he already occasionally hears of business he has lost because of limited parking.

“From time to time a customer will tell us that the previous morning the parking was so bad they kept driving,” he said.

He added: “It’s conceivable we are talking about being put out of business.”

Starbucks currently operates four stores in Berkeley: at 1799 Solano Avenue, 2188 Oxford St. opposite the entrance to UC Berkeley, at 2224 Shattuck Ave., and inside the recently remodeled Safeway at 1444 Shattuck Square. In 1996, the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board turned down an application from Starbucks to go into the Elmwood, saying it would not waive quota restrictions. A Starbucks store at 1600 Shattuck at Cedar was closed  in 2008.

Starbucks has come under fire in some communities around the country for forcing the closure of local, independently owned coffee shops. It has also been described as the “arch rival” of Berkeley-born coffee chain Peet’s. The history of the two stores is intertwined as Jerry Baldwin, one of the founders of Starbucks, bought Peet’s Coffee & Tea in 1984 and Alfred Peet retired from the business. The Whole Foods across the street from Telegraph Gardens last summer revamped its coffee offering with a new cart located at the entrance to the grocery store.

Orozko said Arktegraf planned to file a building permit “in the next month or two.” Once they get a permit they will submit drawings, he said. The current build-out work is being done so that any coffee shop could move in, he said. Dark green awnings like those used by Starbucks, were recently erected at the site. Earlier this week, Orozko said the store would not be open until September.

[This story was revised to reflect new information from the city’s planning department about the parking requirements waiver at 3001 Telegraph.]

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